Sometimes, More Is More
The projects that provide Linuxs two most prominent graphical faces follow separate philosophies, which seem fairly well reflected in the projects slogansthe tagline at www.gnome.org is "Computing made easy," and at www.kde.org, the slogan reads "Conquer your Desktop."
I didnt switch from Windows to Linux on my home and work systems because Windows wasnt easy. I switched because as I came into contact with OS alternatives, I became frustrated with lack of flexibility I found in Windows.
Across the board, KDE seems designed to err on the side of complexity, and GNOME on that of simplicity. To this end, configuration options tend to be more bountiful and nearer the surface in KDE than in GNOME.
For example, hidden files and directories are an integral part of Linux, and most users, at some point at least, will have to deal with them. In Konqueror, selecting whether or not to view hidden files and folders requires a click in the pull-down "View" toolbar menu. In Nautilus, the same selection is buried one level deeper, in Nautilus configuration utility. Which is easier?
Theres been a lot written on the "less is more" vs. "more is more" debate, and it makes for interesting reading. I personally prefer to have options such as one to view or hide hidden files close at hand, and if it means that my file managers toolbar has a few more items in it, and that each of those pull-downs has a few more options, so be it.
Along similar lines, KDEs Konqueror file manager tends to include more than one way of doing basic things, like cutting or copying and pasting files from one place to another. In GNOME, this sort of thing is considered cruft or bloat, and is swept aside in the service of simplicityless is more, and so on.
Conventional wisdom seems to agree, asserting that bunches of config options and context menu choices may not appear jarring to someone like me whos already acclimated to Linux, but choices scare newbies away.
While first learning and now continuing to learn about Linux, its been my experience that having more options in front of me has enabled me to discover what was possible by just poking around the interface.
A simpler interface, such as that in GNOME, works to present to users the "best" or "easiest" way to do something, but even when it comes to more costly and mature proprietary software, the fact that a UI designer deemed one way of doing something "best" doesnt necessarily make it so.
The great thing about the open source world is that you have a choice. You can switch back and forth between GNOME, KDE and other environments, and mix and match the constituent applications of each as well.
KDE or GNOME? Id love to hear your take at firstname.lastname@example.org.